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ISBN:1400033837
Author: Jane Smiley
ISBN13: 978-1400033836
Title: A Thousand Acres: A Novel
Format: doc mobi mbr lrf
ePUB size: 1495 kb
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DJVU size: 1256 kb
Language: English
Category: United States
Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (December 2, 2003)
Pages: 384

A Thousand Acres: A Novel by Jane Smiley



A Thousand Acres is a 1991 novel by American author Jane Smiley. It won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1991 and was adapted to a 1997 film of the same name. The novel is a modernized retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear and is set on a thousand-acre (four hundred hectares) farm in Iowa that is owned by a family of a father and his three daughters. It is told through the point of view of the oldest daughter, Ginny.

Our book club had seven women present who read the book in entirety, ages 31 to 42. This was our 52nd read and our fifth Pulitzer. We rate books on their quality and readability, as well as the discussion they prompt. Loosely based on the plot of "King Lear," this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley is a masterpiece that unabashedly delves into the hearts and souls of her characters, exposing something so raw and tender, one almost has to turn away because it seems so private and personal. But it is humanity she is exposing.

A Thousand Acres is a very readable book. Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior. Having previously read two books by Jane Smiley (the quite amusing MOO and the intelligent and thoughtful Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel), I should have given her the benefit of the doubt. Within the first fifty pages, I was surprised that Smiley had drawn me into her story, and while it was still fairly mundane (the family dog wasn't going to start talking on page 100, to my dismay), I found the voice of the narrator intriguing and wondered just how much of King Lear Smiley was going to be able to transpose to.

ru - This powerful twentieth-century reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear centers on a wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will.

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Read A Thousand Acres: A Novel Online. Authors: Jane Smiley. A Thousand Acres: A Novel. Published in the United States by Anchor Books, a division of Random House, In. New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

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About A Thousand Acres. Everyman’s library contemporary classics. Each book teaches something, provokes, and makes him change his mind about something. Then that mind goes on to write the next book, which inevitably has a different take on things. So, I think we should think of books not in terms of comparing and contrasting one with another, but instead ask how did this book evolve out of that one. What did Dickens learn in The Pickwick Papers that he put to work in Oliver Twist?

This powerful twentieth-century reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear centers on a wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions. Ambitiously conceived and stunningly written, A Thousand Acres takes on themes of truth, justice, love, and pride—and reveals the beautiful yet treacherous topography of humanity.
Reviews: 7
Frey
This is a book club review of A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Our book club had seven women present who read the book in entirety, ages 31 to 42. This was our 52nd read and our fifth Pulitzer. We rate books on their quality and readability, as well as the discussion they prompt. We also play trivia games and enjoy themed potlucks, and that plays into the rating as well. This particular book rated very high, in our top ten reads, with a score of seven out of ten. I won't summarize the book here much, as there are many reviews that serve that purpose, and will stick mostly to an examination of this book as a book club option.

Quality/readability/discussion: This is a very well-written book with lots of depth, wit, word play, and emotion. The characters are well developed and their growth is a well-paced, slow reveal. There is a good tension and pacing to the pages. The subject matter may seem dull (the central female characters live mostly in a farm setting with their family, and the major crisis deals with family trauma) but the story is anything but that. Despite the rural and bucolic background, this book is a page-turning, taunt tale. There are many layers to these characters that unfold slowly and deliciously. The discussion went on for hours. We, of course, discussed the obvious connection to Shakespeare's King Lear - and that particular topic was engrossing. Smiley presents the older two daughters (in the play, they were the one-dimensional villains) in a more sympathetic light... giving depth and reason to their decisions. There were many topics here that we picked apart including family dynamics, feminist angles, money, hierarchy, destiny, history, and Americana. Six out of seven women felt that the book was very readable, with one member siting it as a difficult or challenging read. See below for TRIGGER topics (which present spoilers) if you have any worry about this book as a viable option.

Games/Food/Etc.: This book developed a fun potluck theme (ironically... the potluck itself) as there were lots of mentions of church suppers, country dinners, country kitchens, and of course... the cuisine of Midwest Iowa. The games were lots of fun as well, with a highlight being Shakespeare trivia.

Overall: This book rated high due to readability and great discussion. The book was praised for its quality of writing and its amazing, intellectual, and fresh examination of one of Shakespeare's lesser-known works. Everyone enjoyed the surprising twists and turns found within the narrative. One member found the book a bit dry and boring, but all of the other members found it to be fascinating (which was a bit of a fun surprise, as our favorite genre is thrillers/mysteries).

TRIGGER WARNINGS: DO NOT READ BELOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS. These topics could be considered trigger items for some book club readers. Please note that none of our book club members had any issues with these topics and the way they were explored or presented, but I include them as I get a request often to do so. This book includes feminist topics, adultery, a woman suffering from breast cancer, molestation/sexual abuse, and a graphic injury that occurs "off camera."
Androwyn
This is a tragedy in the classic literary sense. It's the story of the demise of an American family farm, but more important it is the story of the demise of an American family by infighting, long-held secrets, mistrust and even evil. The plot begins when Larry Cook quite suddenly and unexpectedly gives his land of 1,000 acres to two of his three daughters, Ginny and Rose, while shutting out the third one, Caroline, entirely. The story is told in the first-person from the point of view of Ginny, the eldest daughter.

Loosely based on the plot of "King Lear," this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley is a masterpiece that unabashedly delves into the hearts and souls of her characters, exposing something so raw and tender, one almost has to turn away because it seems so private and personal. But it is humanity she is exposing. It is all of us she is exposing.

You can fully understand and appreciate this book without ever having read "King Lear"; however, for those who have read Shakespeare's play, it's fun to see the parallels. Kindle's X-Ray feature helpfully tells you how each character in "A Thousand Acres" is aligned to the characters in "King Lear."

Jane Smiley is a writer's writer. I heard her speak at the 2015 National Book Festival, and she said she wanted to write books in many genres. This takes not only prodigious talent, but also great courage. It's comfortable to write well in one way, especially after achieving commercial success. But it must be a bit unnerving to try something so radically different, and she seems to do this with each book she writes--and succeeds in it.
Flash_back
As a Brit Lit teacher, I've never been much of a fan of American writers. But, I was looking for something to read on my Kindle, when this caught my eye--because of the King Lear similarities and the Pulitzer. Couldn't put it down. The characters were so believable, the knowledge of Iowa farming communities was vast...even though some "bad and sad" things happened, I didn't want it to end. I will be reading more of Jane Smiley.
Akinonris
I first read this when I was around 17, doing a comparative literature course on Shakespeare and contemporary writers. This was my first time reading anything by Jane Smiley, and to be honest, the Pulitizer didn't mean a whole lot to me! Now, I love King Lear - in fact, it is my favourite of Shakespeare's published plays. Reading Shakespeare at 17, especially one of the less "famous" ones, was quite daunting, but reading Smiley's interpretation alongside it, made it not only easier, but it gave me a better appreciation of it.
If you don't know the plot, here is a very simplified version: Smiley presents us with a family that owns a 1000 acre farm in 1970's Iowa. We have Larry, Caroline, Ginny and Rose who are obviously representing Lear, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Larry, who is getting on in years, decides to transfer ownership of his farm between his 3 daughters, with Caroline not agreeing. This begins a journey in which none of the characters fare very well.
Much like Shakespeare's play, Smiley gives us a rich novel full of varying themes. However, it is also simple and honest. I say simple not as an insult, but indeed a compliment. Smiley is able portray common tragedies and instances of abhorrence and turn them into a multi-faceted series of events that propel the actions and growth of the characters.
If you haven't read this novel, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy today!